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Doc Talk: Dr. Kevin Young explains what blood pressure numbers mean

Nearly 68 million people, approximately one in three adults, suffer from high blood pressure. With such a high rate of sufferers, what exactly is your blood pressure, and why is it important?

“Blood pressure is literally the pressure, or force, of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels,” said Dr. Kevin M. Young, a Saint Thomas Heart cardiologist. “Having extremely high blood pressure can lead to a number of health related diseases, such as strokes and heart attacks.” 

Your blood pressure is broken down into two numbers. The top number, systolic pressure, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. This number is always the higher of the two numbers. The bottom number stands for diastolic pressure. Opposite of systolic measurement, diastolic pressure measures the pressure in your arteries in between heart beats, when the heart muscle is resting. 

Blood pressure is considered normal when the systolic reading is below 120 and the diastolic number is under 80. A healthy reading is usually close to 110/70. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when blood pressure rises above 140/90. If blood pressure rises higher than 180/110, emergency care is needed.

High blood pressure is very common. It can be a result of many different factors, including:

 

  • Being overweight
  • Deprivation of physical activity
  • High salt intake
  • High consumption of alcohol
  • Stress
  • Old age
  • Genetics and family history
  • Various diseases

 

Knowing your blood pressure is vital, because treating and controlling high blood pressure can mitigate your disk of serious conditions. Many people don’t even realize they suffer from high blood pressure—so if you don’t know your number, make an appointment to see your doctor today.   

For more information about Saint Thomas Health, please visit www.sths.com.  Dr. Young practices in Franklin and Columbia. To schedule appointment at his Franklin office, please call 615-565-6670. To schedule an appointment at his Columbia office, please call 615-565-6670. 

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